Lisa Mitchell

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Teach your clients to be artists of their own lives.

Lisa Mitchell | Aug 31, 2016 | 1 comment


Do you teach your clients to be artists?

We therapists have a fascination with layers.

It’s our innate curiosity that leads us to find the unseen. We automatically look for the underlying factors. This makes us creative problem solvers.

When clients first tell us their problem, we automatically look further:

How did this problem come to be?
When did it start?
What other problems make it worse?
Why does this problem make sense in the context of what the client is saying?
Who does this problem effect and how?


We can think of these questions as the content to a good assessment.  Or we can think of them as a the tools of a good detective who flushes out clues to gain understanding about the problem. These clues then lead to ideas about the solution to the problem.

I like to think of us as discerning artists.

How an artist looks at art is very telling.

When artists go to galleries or craft shows, they arrive with a lot more than their viewing eyes.  (And I’m not talking about how they bring their wallets!)  Artists come with the stealth ability to decipher layers.  They want to see the whole piece AND they want to understand how the piece was made—layer by layer.  When these layers are made known, the artist can then understand more about the piece.  Often this leads to greater appreciation.  Sometimes it leads to inspiration for further exploration in their own art pieces.

It is an artist’s insatiable curiosity that fuels the search for the unseen, the underlying, the more of the piece that they are making or viewing.

Therapists have the same curiosity that artists do.

This is the same experience we therapists have with clients.  We decipher the layers and start to see the unique composition that our clients represent.  Anxiety is often a layer on top of trauma.  Depression sometimes layers a loss or an insecure attachment.  Addiction, neurological issues, and physical illness are layers that affect other problems.  Personality traits, successes, and positive relationships also play a role.  When we see the layers, and we begin to decipher them, we see more.

Clients can learn to be curious, too.

Lack of curiosity, or loss of curiosity is one of the most common issues that bring clients through our doors.  Clients are locked in, overwhelmed, and no longer have access to seeing the subtle layers that make up their current predicament.  I don’t think this is intentional or conscious, it just happens when we don’t know or forget to approach our lives with an artist’s creativity.  When we teach our clients to become curious about their own layers—we are teaching them to become discerning artists, too.  Artists of their own lives.

When we see more, we are creative problem solvers—looking at our lives from the multiple perspectives that these layers illuminate.  When we take into account the layers, we are less likely to become overwhelmed by all of the contributing factors.  Instead, we can gain better understanding of our problems which then leads to new ideas about the solution.

One response to “Teach your clients to be artists of their own lives.”

  1. Tammy L Rumbaugh says:

    Beautifully constructed, Lisa. THANK YOU! 🙂

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